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Friday, March 5, 2010

Yet another food recall

Yesterday the FDA began a series of food recalls thanks to salmonella contamination in a common ingredient. The ingredient? HVP (which stands for hydrolyzed vegetable protein, not to be confused with HPV, human papilloma virus).
HVP is used as a "flavor enhancer" in many of processed foods, but here's the kicker: since it's vegetarian, it's used in a lot of "health food" products. I put that in quotes because what I mean is packaged, processed foods that are either vegetarian or a little more health conscious - like salad dressings, canned soups, etc. made by Trader Joe's or T. Marzetti's (some of the brands affected). This might rock the healthy-eating world!
I don't know if you've noticed but it seems like food recalls have been skyrocketing in recent years. Congress has debated new laws to decrease contamination, but most of these laws would just increase plant monitoring and inspection. That might help in cases like this, where one processed ingredient affects many commercial foods, but it won't help in cases like the spinach scare of a few years ago. That recall was due to E coli present in fresh spinach. Yes, IN, not on: the bacteria came from the soil and was in the stems. What caused this? Plain and simple, bacterial resistance. We use way too many antibiotics in farming!
How should we address food contamination to reduce consumers' risks?
Is it all about the antibiotic use?
Do we need more FDA involvement?
Was one of your favorites recalled?
Read the recall list here.

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